Hanscom Air Force Base Technology Expo – Part II

September 18, 2017
Bedford resident Bob Roe (3rd, left) and Maj. Gen. Dwyer Davis (4th, left) with MIT students and faculty alongside the fuselage of the Jungle Hawk Owl, an economical, long-range unmanned aerial vehicle capable of supporting airborne communication. The UAV first flew in May 2017, with MIT leading the vehicle design and fabrication and Lincoln Laboratory leading the communication payload design. The UAV can stay aloft for five days – Image (c) Julie Ramsdell, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image
The “Gatr Ball”, a portable, inflatable satellite dish that can be easily deployed and quickly set up to provide emergency communications capabilities, for example in areas hit by natural disasters – Image (c) John Laferriere, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view a larger image

In anticipation of the United States Air Force’s 70th birthday on September 18, Hanscom Air Force Base was the site of a technology and aircraft expo on September 13. Follow this link for more information on this landmark  anniversary: https://static.dma.mil/usaf/70/

The expo included both Air Force and civilian personnel, as well as technology partners displaying the results of technical projects aimed primarily at enhancing the reliability and capability of critical communications systems under adverse conditions.

Speakers talked about the work that goes on at Hanscom, and guests were able to visit numerous displays and speak with individuals involved with work aimed at upgrading older communications technology to make it more reliable and capable, integrating multiple communications platforms, improving sensing and tracking capabilities, securely encrypting voice or data communications, designing a WiFi system suitable for battlefield applications, as well as an Air Force “Cloud”.

One project, dubbed the Jungle Hawk Owl, is a 180-pound unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed and built by students and faculty from MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  Working in conjunction with Lincoln Laboratory and the Tactical Data Networks branch of the USAF, the UAV is a relatively low-cost vehicle for extended missions (up to 5 days aloft), capable of supporting airborne communications.  One Bedford resident, Julie Ramsdell, a civilian employee at the base, has been involved in the administrative and program management aspects of this project, among others.

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Another project, the “GATR Ball”, is a highly portable, inflatable satellite dish that can be easily delivered and deployed, either on the battlefield or following a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey, to enable emergency communications.

Following the presentations, guests were invited to the flight line to tour a number of Air Force and NASA aircraft including a KC-135 Stratotanker.

A former high-altitude bomber from the 1950s, this is one of only 3 WB-57’s still in service. Now owned and operated by NASA to fly various experimental payloads, two WB-57’s were flown to observe the total solar eclipse in August, and can be seen in the WGBH Nova episode on the eclipse – Image (c) John Laferriere, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image
The KC135 Stratotanker – Image (c) John Laferriere, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image
On the flight line at Hanscom Air Force Base during the recent technology expo – Image (c) John Laferriere, 2017 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

Col. Roman L. Hund, Hanscom AFB’s installation commander, discussed the opportunity to share with the community the work done at Hanscom. “This event was a great opportunity to show congressional staffers, local civic leaders, industry partners and others the exciting work we do and the tremendous professionals who make it happen,” Hund said.

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